In hospital, I have the opportunity to do arts and crafts. It is a bit like kindergarten, but totally therapeutic. Ceramics is my favourite and I go there four times a week. It has been very healing for me to work with my hands.
So far, I’ve made: owls, bowls, a cake stand, jug, outdoor signs and Aroma Buddies.
I had some leftover clay and a few minutes left for arts and crafts, so I decided to make something I had been thinking about: Aroma Buddies.
They are unglazed ceramic cutouts that will diffuse your essential oils and oil blends.
I highly recommend them and am happy to send you some, or you can stop by Krista’s Herbarium in Zbudov.
It would take seven lifetimes to learn the Latin names of every plant, how to identify them and to which families they belong. Even more, to learn all the common names and their medicinal actions plus energetics is an impossible task.
So let’s start simply:
The best way to start is by introducing one family at a time.
My name is Krista Coyan. My family name is Coyan. All of my immediate family members share the same last name: Coyan. Dan, Rebekah and Roxie Coyan. You can identify us easily by name. We live in the Czech Republic, but some of us live in California. So if you meet Tom and Dawn Coyan or John and Carolyn Coyan, you can maybe assume they belong to us, to our family.
Plants have families too. There are hundreds of plant families and within them millions of plant species. It’s an impossible task. Luckily, we have the internet and the hundreds of years of effort of botanists globally.
Plant names are reduced simply to into three categories: Family, Genus and Species.
At the simplest level of scientific classification, each plant has a name made up of two parts, a generic (or genus) name and a specific name or species. Together, these two names are referred to as a binomial.
A generic name is a ‘collective name’ for a group of plants. It indicates a grouping of organisms that all share a suite of similar characters. Ideally these should all have evolved from one common ancestor. The species name, allows us to distinguish between different organisms within a genus.Australia’s Virtual Herbarium
There are hierarchical levels of classification (ranks) above and below the genus and species, the most commonly referred to is the grouping of several genera (plural of genus) into a family. As with plants within the same genus, plants in the same family have many characteristics in common.Australia’s Virtual Herbarium
The best way to begin is by getting to know one family at a time. During this course, Herbalism 101, you will become acquainted with five common plant families.
Imagine that you are at your friend’s garden party and you have yet to be introduced to your friend’s family. If I asked you to find all of your friend’s relatives at that party, how would you go about it? You could ask everyone’s name and sort it like that. Or, you could look for common characteristics and deduce family members with that information.
There is a saying: if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.
We will start with a plant family that you know well:
Key Words: Square stalks and opposite leaves, often aromatic.
Members of this family include:
Medicinal constituents include the strong aromatic essential oil, tannins, saponins and organic acids. The oil is obtained by steam distillation. In aromatherapy, the oil is used for its soothing effects. The plant has sedative, diuretic, tonic, antispasmodic and antiseptic properties.scialert.net
Once you are familiar with the family characteristics, it is much easier to identify a plant within that family. You will recognise its basic shape and often know its medicinal properties.
A few years ago, when we lived in Hluboka, a plant which I had never seen before started to grow in my yard.
Starting with flower shape, I began the process of identifying its family, genus and species.
This plant has:
Given these characteristics, I can safely put this plant in the Lamiaceae family.
Using these resources, I am easily able to identify its genus and species:
Self-heal is used for inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), diarrhea, colic, and stomach upset and irritation (gastroenteritis). It is also used for mouth and throat ulcers, sore throat, and internal bleeding.
There are poisonous and dangerous plants out there. Please be sure about your herbal identification before eating, drinking or rubbing it all over your face!!!!
We will cover the most common and most dangerous of the poisonous plants in the Herbalism 101 short course.
Creating a personal blend step-by-step is easy. And difficult. But, mostly easy.
Here’s how I do it.
After choosing the oils you would like to work with:
Once you have discovered your favourite base scent:
After you have refined your recipe:
This blend is rejuvenating and grounding. It helps you wake up and keeps you firmly focused on the here and now. I use this in the mornings here (at the time of this writing, I am still in hospital) as a refreshing wake up and whilst working on my articles as a focus blend. This can also be used to regulate blood pressure and on the chest and under the nose as support for a weakened repiratory system, in general it is good for the immune system.
A strong vision came to me today, clear and colourful and alive:
When my consciousness arrives, I’m laying on a soft green bed of moss. With eyes still closed, I notice the sounds of birds and insects. There is a cacophany of sound, yet it is serene and melodic. Frogs, bees, birds, butterflies; all are happily in action.
Gentle perfumes arrive on pleasant breezes. These are the odours of Spring. Recognisable; not warm and pungeant like Summer smells, but cool and fragrant. I catch early flowering broad bean blooms, a fragrance from my childhood. Cinnamon basil wafts in, not overpowering as it will be in a month or two, but subtle. I almost missed it. I have to focus to catch them, they are so shy still.
Though I have yet to open my eyes, still this would be enough. I am lying in pure contentment, still I look forward to more. I know this place is meant for me and I for it. We are connected somehow. It occurs to me that I may have always been here. It’s possible I have just now come awake.
Fluttering my eyes open, no hurry at all, I note that I am here; where I wanted and hoped to be.
I see the tall grass on either side of me and a meadow beyond with a forest encircling. Flowers of every kind surround me. There is a delightful chaos here that brings me joy.
I am intertwined with this place. It’s as if I know each blade of grass. The moss gently rises up to meet the curves of my back. Without fear, birds chirp at me as they pass, allowing me to stroke their breast and offer my greetings. Bees, spiders, snakes, all manner of tiny fauna, encounter me along their paths, we silently acknowledge each other with familiarity and friendliness. We know each other.
I have nowhere to be. I sense that I am completely alone, but I don’t feel lonely. I feel no desire that I have, no wanting. There is no time frame, nothing that needs be done. No one is calling my name. I am not needed, I can merely be. There is nothing to strive for here, for all my longings have been met. And I embrace this with gratitude.
Lying amongst the moss and tall grass, I notice the light through the young green birch leaves. Dappled like stained glass, the sunlight gently warms me as a breeze blows across like a blanket I didn’t know I needed. The blue sky is cool and deep and crisp. I lose myself in its gaze.
Across from me on my left is a hill. At the foot of this green mound is a small moss-covered stone ruin; ancient and achingly beautiful. My things are there. I don’t know what things they are, but I know that what I need is in this structure. I love to lean against its cool rock wall when twilight hits. There I will sit, comfortably, and read.
There is a book inside that small stone ruin. It is one that I am sorely eager to read. I am looking so forward to reading that book for I know it will be captivating, yet there is no hurry. Time is not pressing on me. I can truly be present and enjoy this one moment. I need not think of the moments that come after this one.
Later, there will be time with others. Loved souls, ones that bring me joy; for them, there will be time. I look forward to these reunions. A rush of anticipation comes, the feeling is sublime. Then peace; for now, I have all I need.
Behind me lay a forest with paths of timeworn stone. These paths have known my footsteps as I have known their every twist and turn. One need not worry of straying off these forest paths, for the paths find you and each returns you home. I long to explore them. Peace, there is time…perhaps tomorrow…Pisek Psychiatric Hospital, 26.3.21
These concepts resonated deeply within me:
a quieted and contented soul
time: unfettered, unhindered, unshackled
connectedness to all living things
from one strand is made many
Dry the herbs (in a cool dark dry place, in the oven on the lowest temperature or in a dehydrator) until completely dry and crumbly.
Grind the herbs in a mortar and pestle or with a juicer or herb grinder.
Store in a cool, dry, dark place.
1 tablespoon of tea per cup of boiling water, let steep for 5-10 minutes covered.
Dose: 1 cup of tea as needed
Even though I have some second hand experience because of my daughter, I was amazed at how it feels to really be here and how easily one can get used to something that one has only seen in movies.
I wanted to share the highlight reel from Hospital #1 here:
Fun Fact #1
When you receive your meds, the nurses wait for you to swallow them and then check inside your mouth and under your tongue to make sure.Ceske Budejovice Psychiatric Hospital
Fun Fact #2
The nurses will yell at you if you try to go outside in your robe and pjs during outside time.Not me, Ceske Budejovice Psychiatric Hospital
Fun Fact #3
The Viking wasn’t allowed outside at Outside Time for three weeks because they thought he would destroy the cement ping pong table in a fit of rage. (He wouldn’t)The Viking, Ceske Budejovice Psychiatric Hospital
Fun Fact #4
All the rules and procedures are disseminated patient to patient in the smoking room. Those of us who don’t smoke have no idea what the hell’s going on.Ceske Budejvice Psychiatric Hospital
Fun Fact #5
Most of the nurses are really caring and amazing. Some are ok, professional and polite. There were two that had the same shift and they would yell at the patients. Just yell at them and push them around a bit. Then they would go into the nurses station and laugh and joke around. I hated them.Ceske Budejovice Psychiatric Hospital
Fun Fact #6
If you get a roommate who snores, the nurses are really sympathetic. They look at you knowingly and hand you a sleeping pill and earplugs. They are totally prepared for this scenario.
Update-My current roomates say I snore. I looked at them knowingly and offered them earplugs.Ceske Budejovice Psychiatric Hospital
I hope you find this interesting. I do, but it is happening to me, so there’s that.Me, Pisek Psychiatric Hospital
Things had been getting worse. Read more about that here.
The day or two before I went into hospital, my husband asked me exactly how I was feeling. I told him I was scared and I told him why:
I feel horrible and I feel nothing all at the same time.Me, Zbudov 48, Divcice
The day I went in, I didn’t want to go. But, I was lying on the couch crying and I saw that I was also really, really making life bad for my family. It was like I wanted the comfort of home, but I couldn’t get help at home. My family didn’t know how to help me. The only place that could help me was hospital. It was why I was crying. I knew there wasn’t another option at this point. I knew that I had to pack my stuff and go, and possibly be away for a while. I would miss my cats…man, my cats. And, I would miss my herbal workshop and my garden. I would miss my bed and…everything.
So, I packed all of my stuff. It was hard to do. I know what this is like from the other side only. We have packed Bekah for hospital many times. I started getting nervous. I knew what to expect and I totally didn’t know what to expect.
We get to the hospital, a drive we’ve taken quite often. As we were sat in the waiting room, two things came to mind: What if they don’t admit me? (Am I sick enough?) and I wonder what it’s like on the other side of that door? (This is a place I’ve yet to have gone.)
After a lengthy conversation with the admitting psychiatrist, she said these words to me:
We will admit you into the hospital. Let us take care of you now.Admitting psychiatrist, Ceske Budejovice Psychiatric Hospital
I cannot tell you what these words did for me. The nervous energy and the anxiety, were momentarily, yet effectively, healed by this holy balsam. Imagine that, someone just told me that they were going to take care of me. I don’t know if it was the way she said it or just the simple words, but it deeply affected me. It’s like in 6 words she had pinpointed what had been sorely missing. I needed care. Oh, and meds.
I cried sitting on my hospital bed. The balsam of healing words had worn off. It hit me that I was in hospital, effectively a prisoner. I sat and I cried.
I had missed dinner, so I ate crackers I had packed.
I’m glad I packed those.
Hospital Prison Daily Schedule
6:30 Woken abruptly by loud nurse yelling “Wake up!”
6:45 Get ready
7:00 Sit in the hallway with the other patients whilst they mop the rooms and empty garbage
7:15 Pick up breakfast tray, eat in room with roommate (See fig. 1)
7:30 Turn in breakfast tray, showing nurse that the butter knife is safely on your tray (no sharp objects allowed)
7:45 Try to get a nurse to give you hot water for coffee. Patients can’t have access to really hot water for safety reasons. Or jars of coffee (no glass allowed)
8:00 Line up for meds (just like in the movies, folks)
8:15 Sit in the hallway with all the other patients to wait to see the doctor.
Anytime between 8:15-9:30 Chat with the doctor for 5 minutes. This is when they ask you how you are feeling, how you are sleeping and how you feel on your meds. They are mostly concerned with your meds. On Wednesdays, the whole psychiatric team meets with you. They kind of stare at me while I sputter out random stuff. It is nerve wracking being sat in front of a whole team.
9:30-11:30 Sit in your room. Because of Covid, the patients can’t really hang out in common areas. There were varying degrees of strictness about this, depending on the staff that day. There really are good nurses and bad nurses. During this time, I would usually work on my website and social media.
11:30 Lunch. Again, in the room, with your roommate.
11:45 Turn in lunch trays, knife check, line up for meds.
12:00-2:00 Sit in your room. I usually napped. Meds make you tired.
2:00-3:00 Outside time. If your doctor says you can, you get to go outside. See fig 2. It’s more like a pretty prison yard where you can walk around in a circle for an hour, play ping-pong (if there are any balls or if they’re not broken), sit on a bench or sit on a bench and smoke.
3:00-4:00 Social time. We would talk a nurse into letting us get coffee from the vending machine (a real treat!) and we would sneak and sit in the dining room (typically closed off because of Covid). If there were good nurses, they wouldn’t say a word. I would use this time to play chess with a fellow patient I call The Viking. He looks like one, really.
4:30 Pick up your dinner packet. This consisted of more bread and possible paste of assorted flavours and dubious provenance.
4:45 Line up for meds.
5:00-9:00 Sit in room and figure out what to do. Maybe get depressed.
Assorted evening activities: Shower, wear a face mask, watch a movie (with wireless headphones. No strings or cords allowed), get depressed, get anxious, ask for more meds.
9:00 Last (and very often best) meds of the day
9:30 Lights out.
The Psychiatric Hospital in Ceske Budejovice is more of a holding pen to keep you safe, regulate meds and figure out where you should go next. The typical stay is 2 weeks to a month. There is almost always a thing you need to do next. This is like step one.
Though a holding pen, there is still typically therapy during the day, even some arts and crafts, yoga, ceramics and cooking. This is all cancelled because of Covid. We were really lucky that we could sometimes congregate…playing chess with The Viking was really a good deal.
Suffice it to say, no therapy, just lots of free time.
The meds were so strong that at first I just kind of slept and shuffled around in my bunny slippers. I was on meds anyway, but they gave me a stronger dose of everything, plus a new one to stabilise me. So, week one was kind of a wash.
Week two was super boring (though I enjoyed having time for yoga in my room and getting to know my roommate who was awesome and doing my herbal stuff on my social media). Having a lot of time to think can be good and bad. If I get too introspective, I can get super anxious…then need more meds. But, having the time to think, with no responsibilities, with nurses who were super kind and caring and loving (most of the time) was kind of amazing. If you needed anything, you just shuffle over in your slippers and ask and they sweetly help you. If I was feeling bad, they would care for me. It’s a little like being six.
I could think my thoughts and carefully organise them into safe ones and unsafe ones. It enabled me to at least take an inventory of what really hurts and what doesn’t. I don’t think I’ve given myself this much time to think thoughts in my whole life.
I had a really bad panic attack one day which led into an anxiety state that caused me to get an appointment with The Psychologist. Please picture Jared from Silicon Valley/Gabe Lewis from The Office.
He specialises in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and he helped me work through a specific scenario and gave me some skills for the next time. I got to see him twice and I was happy to walk away with a new skill and the hope that CBT could work as a therapy for me.
I’m literally going crazy in this place! Walking around in a circle for an hour outside, sitting on my bed, NAPPING!?!. I want to go home. I feel really anxiious, like I’m never going to see my family, my cats or my garden again. I know it’s illogical, but my body doesn’t know that.
I am told that they finally have a place for me at the therapeutic hospital in Pisek. This is the place where you get therapy. This is what I need, what I have been asking about for a while now. I look forward to when they tell me it’s my turn to go.
I pack my bags and say my goodbyes. I feel like my real journey is just about to begin!
Choose your essential oils based on healing needs and fragrance. Using the blending factor chart, add no more than 10-12 drops of total EOs into the 10 ml glass bottle. Swirl the bottle around to thoroughly combine the oils then fill the rest of the bottle with a carrier oil of your choice. Replace the cap and swirl again.
The oils will bloom over time. After a week or two, the scent will really begin to shine!